By Jody Grenert
Though funding cuts are forcing it to scale back enrollment, Kids on Campus will launch its 13th year of summer programming in June with the help of a $90,000 gift from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
A partnership involving Ohio University and community members, Kids on Campus (KOC) provides after-school and summer programming for Athens County children. This year's summer program will run from June 18 to July 25 on the Athens campus, and more than 225 children between the ages 6 and 12 are expected to participate. Most participants qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches.
In years past, KOC was able to accommodate about 100 more children and even some teenagers, but the loss of funding from the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services for the upcoming fiscal year has forced the program to downsize, said Leslie Moss, the program's executive director. The enrollment target already has been met, and Moss is maintaining a waiting list.
Job and Family Services had to scale back its support for KOC because of changes and cuts in state funding it receives, coupled with higher expenses from a growth in caseloads in the area, said Tracy Galway, the county agency's community relations coordinator. The agency gave KOC $335,000 last year, which KOC used to support the 2007 summer program and some after-school programming.
Kids on Campus funds its $1 million annual budget through a combination of federal and state grants as well as corporate and individual donations. Chase has invested more than $500,000 in the program over the past 11 years.
The most recent gift will sponsor 150 children enrolled in Kids on Campus' Chase Explorer and Adventure camps for 8- to 12-year-olds. The summer program offers recreational activities such as swimming and picnics and has an educational focus.
Studies show that children's reading skills tend to regress during the summer, and this type of program typically has enabled participating children to maintain or slightly improve their grade reading level, Moss said.
Moss said she regrets that funding cuts will result in the elimination of this summer's Teens on Campus program. "There are so few options for our youth," she said, "especially those who believe they are too old for a babysitter but too young to drive or secure a part-time job."
In addition to reading, this year's six-week Kids on Campus program again will delve into the arts, technology and science. The program also includes a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack, bus transportation and free hearing, speech and dental screenings.
"Chase takes great pride in our long and sustained support for this critically important program," said Jeff Lyttle, who oversees Chase's community relations program across the Midwest. "Kids on Campus has meant so much to so many children over the past decade. During tight economic times, it's more important than ever for us to do what we can to see that this program continues to enrich the lives of kids in and around Athens."
Gary Neiman, dean of Ohio University's College of Health and Human Services, the administrative home of Kids on Campus, added, "We are so grateful to Kids on Campus partners like the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, which help provide Athens County children with wonderful nutritional, recreational and academic enrichment activities."
In addition to Chase, the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund and Bob Evans Farms have contributed to this year's summer program.
For more information about the summer program and Kids on Campus, go to www.ohiou.edu/kids/.
To speak with a university representative about this story, contact Kids on Campus Executive Director Leslie Moss at 740-593-9703 firstname.lastname@example.org or College of Health and Human Services Communications Director Jody Grenert at 740-593-1433 or email@example.com.